AWARD YEAR: 2021
DIRECTOR: DAVID JOHNSTON, PH.D.
PROJECT TITLE: LIFTOFF IN ENC: A COMMUNITY COLLABORATION TO CONNECT LOCAL STEM RESEARCH AND COMMUNITY
This project will be a partnership between researchers at the Duke University Marine Lab with the local Boys and Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain. This collaboration will allow us to more effectively deliver hands-on curriculum drawing from the robotics-based research conducted at the Duke University Marine Lab (DUML) in an effort to inspire and foster science and mathematics aptitude in middle school and high school students within our communities. Using the BGCCP centers, the programming will focus on student engagement within two rural counties (Carteret and Craven), having significant populations of economically disadvantaged families and underrepresented groups in STEM. The program emphasizes working with several smaller groups of students throughout the year, including several paid high school interns, with corresponding summer opportunities to help all the students build lasting relationships with the project team and associated members of the STEM community.
Programming will be community-centered, using the expertise of BGCCP staff to refine pre-developed activities and co-produce a robotics program through the BGCCP centers. We will have students learning about drones and other robotic tools and their use in robotic-based research. Students will use a variety of small drones to learn the basics of drone aviation and then use and program them to conduct research tasks. A series of science activities will draw from actual research being conducted by DUML to put students in the researchers’ shoes and apply science and mathematical principles tied to NC Essential Standards and Standard Course of Study to answer research questions. These activities will expose students to a variety of interdisciplinary topics and technologies beyond robotics, including the use of virtual reality headsets to have students experience virtual field excursions from 360 video collected from drone flights in various locations including Antarctic whale surveys. These activities will help set the stage for multi-day summer research experiences, where students will have the opportunity to come to DUML and see, first-hand, coastal resource issues. They will then work with the project team to conduct their own robotics-based research projects, evaluate their data, and communicate results to peers, scientists, and parents.